Worldwide icon-chevron-right North America icon-chevron-right United States icon-chevron-right Illinois icon-chevron-right Chicago icon-chevron-right The best things to do over Labor Day weekend in Chicago

The best things to do over Labor Day weekend in Chicago

Celebrate the long weekend in with our ultimate guide to the city's top beaches, festivals, restaurants and getaways.

Chicago River
Photograph: Neal O'Bryan

Unlike most major holidays, Labor Day weekend in Chicago isn’t weighed down by too many traditions. It’s a glorious and much needed extra day off that you can spend soaking up some of the final days of summer however you see fit. If you're looking for one more Chicago summer festival to attend, catch the Chicago Jazz Festival in Millennium Park, have a seafood feast during the Great American Lobster Fest at Navy Pier or dance at North Coast Music Festival. Visit some of Chicago's best museums to explore Virgil Abloh's work at the MCA, or learn about bugs at the Field Museum. Plus, you can ride go-karts at Neon Summer, drive out to the Bristol Renaissance Faire or watch an improvised Shakespeare play. Fire up the grill and find more of the best things to do over Labor Day weekend in Chicago

When is Labor Day?

This year, Labor Day falls on Monday, September 2, 2019.

What is Labor Day?

Labor Day is a national holiday created to celebrate the contributions of the American worker. It falls on the first Monday of September, resulting in a coveted three-day weekend.

Things to do during Labor Day weekend

Love, Chaos & Dinner

Love, Chaos & Dinner

In 2017, the staff at the Cambria Hotel were shocked to discover a long forgotten theater hidden behind their walls. Two years later, the newly renovated space is being christened by Love, Chaos & Dinner, a circus/comedy/cabaret confection from Seattle-based troupe Teatro ZinZanni. The show is performed inside a Belgian mirror tent and features a menu from Debbie Sharpe of The Goddess and Grocer.

Buy
Virgil Abloh: “Figures of Speech”
Art

Virgil Abloh: “Figures of Speech”

A Rockford, Illinois-native and a graduate of the Illinois Institute of Technology's architecture program, Virgil Abloh's decision to pursue a career in fashion recently landed him a job as the artistic director of Louis Vuitton. The MCA's latest exhibition explores Abloh's career, including his time as creative director of Kanye West, his popular streetwear company Off-White and the various high-profile collaborations he's had a hand in. Throughout the exhibit, you'll find examples of Abloh's work in fashion, music, design and architecture, offering an intimate look inside his creative process. Naturally, you'll also be able to cop some exclusive Abloh-designed threads when you exit through the gift shop. While access to the exhibit is included with your MCA admission, “Figures of Speech” uses a timed ticket system to allow entry to the exhibit. To reserve a specific time slot, you'll need to purchase you tickets in advance through the MCA's website.

Drunk Shakespeare Chicago

Drunk Shakespeare Chicago

This isn't your grandmother's Shakespeare. Five classically trained actors gather to perform a Shakespearean play. The twist? One of them got into the whiskey before the show. The four sober cast members attempt to keep the script on track as hilarity ensues.

Buy
“Fantastic Bug Encounters!”
Museums

“Fantastic Bug Encounters!”

There are far more bugs than humans on the planet, and the Field Museum's latest exhibition gives you an opportunity to learn more about the tiny, multi-legged creatures that largely go unnoticed in our day-to-day lives. “Fantastic Bug Encounters!” features larger-than-life models created by Weta Workshops (the folks behind the Lord of the Rings movies) that allow guests to see insects like bees and praying mantises in extreme detail. Interactive stations let you test your reflexes against those of a mantis, send origami butterflies into a wind tunnel and perform bug brain surgery. There's even a bug zoo where you'll be able to get your hands on a dozen live bug species.

Picnics on the Porch

Picnics on the Porch

Hideout's annual summer concert series brings the bands out of the back room and onto the venue's front porch for intimate performances under the setting sun. On the Friday before Labor Day weekend, local folk-singer Joybird headlines the venue's outdoor stage. Plus, Ukranian Village eatery All Together Now will be offering a menu of picnic meals and snacks to accompany the music, including "Lunchables for Grownups," brats and roasted beet sandwiches.

Buy
Art on theMART
Art

Art on theMART

Every night, a 25-story-tall video installation takes over the side of the Merchandise Mart, filling the building's historic facade with vibrant colors and moving images. Harnessing 34 digital projectors, the show features work by a rotating lineup of artists and is best viewed from Wacker Drive or the Riverwalk, between Wells and Orleans Streets. Art on theMART lights up the night Monday through Sunday, with projections beginning approximately 15 minutes after sunset.